Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Zoe Whittall

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Zoe Whittall is the author of the novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (Cormorant, 2007) and two volumes of poetry, The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare, 2006) and The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (McGilligan, 2001). The Globe & Mail recently called her: "the cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler." Originally from Quebec, she has lived in Toronto for ten years. Her website is

Ten Questions with Zoe Whittall


What was your first publication and where was it published?


I was first published in 1995, in a magazine called Index in Montreal. They printed a spoken-word poem I used to perform at slam type venues. It makes me cringe now but was a big deal at the time. Erin Moure had a poem in the same issue - made me feel insanely lucky / unworthy. I was 19.


Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.


Not sure how that would be defined... I saw three one-man plays by Daniel MacIvor this year and was very influenced by them. His monologues make me almost catatonic afterwards, that feeling of being so inspired that your teeth almost hurt and your bones feel awkward under your skin.

Bottle Rocket Hearts

By Zoe Whittall

Welcome to Montreal in the months before the 1995 referendum. Riot Grrl gets bought out and mass marketed as the Spice Girls, and gays are gaining some legitimacy, but the queers are rioting against assimilation, cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and the city walls on either side of the Main are spray-painted with the words YES or NO. It's been five years since the OKA crisis and the sex garage riots; revolution seems possible, when you're 18, like Eve. Eve is pining to get out of her parent's house in Dorval and find a girl who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della - mysterious, defiantly non-monogamous, an avid separatist and ten years older.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

A Queer Story: A Reading and Writing Workshop with Farzana Doctor, Vivek Shraya and Zoe Whittall


Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 7:00pm


Another Story Bookshop
315 Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto, ON
M6R 2M6


Another Story Bookshop is excited to be hosting an event as part of this year's Queer West Fest, an annual arts and culture festival in Toronto.

They are pleased to welcome you to A Queer Story: A Reading and Writing Workshop with Farzana Doctor, Vivek Shraya and Zoe Whittall.


More than just a reading Another Story be hosting an interactive writing workshop where the featured authors will explore the writing process, share some of their favourite writing prompts and provide feedback on your writing! Bring along your writing materials, share your own story or simply come listen to three young, queer writers from Toronto's west end. Delectable goodies from Cardinal Rule restaurant will help fuel the creative spirit!!!


Another Story Bookshop
315 Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto, ON M6R 2M6 43° 0' 0" N, 79° 0' 0" W

Zoe T. Leroy interviews Maureen Medved, author of The Tracey Fragments

In 1999, my fabulous then-roomie, Mariko, recommended I read a slim blue book about an impetuous teen named Tracey. We were both writing thinly-veiled novels about our melodramatic teen years at the time (Thank *god* I didn't publish mine - Bottle Rocket Hearts is not an autobiography by any stretch:, but M.T.'s first novel was definitely amazing enough to be published) Anyway, this EMERGENCY of a girl called Tracey spoke to me. I still re-read it every time I have trouble getting inside the head of a new character.

Letters to Elyse*

I mentioned to everyone I met this week (and on the Now blog) just how much I loved hearing Elyse Friedman read a short story at the House of Anansi 40th Anniversary party at the IFOA. I spend a lot of time at literary events making sure my dates have enough alcohol and are kept entertained during the boring bits, and Elyse kept us both spine-straight and clutching our guts.

Thanks to Patchy Squirrel List-serve for the reminder! I will definitely walk out my door and across the park for this one:


Thursday, November 1, 7:30 pm.
Type Books, 883 Queen West

Elyse Friedman's Long Story Short (Anansi)

Very short reading. Libations/Merriment

Zoe T. Leroy Suggests you visit Words Travel Fast to see her poetry animated!

For this year's Nuit Blanche, my poems, along with poetry by Emily Pohl-Weary and Emily Schultz, were made into animated films by local graphic artists and shown on the TTC subway screens. The project was called Words Travel Fast and curated by Sharon Switzer , as part of Art for Commuters. I'm pretty excited that you can now see all of the films on the site.

IFOA, Eileen Myles and tour report

The life of one Zoe T. Leroy has been a bit hectic this week. I went to Montreal and had a fantastic time reading with Neil Smith, author of Bang Crunch and Jon Paul Fiorentino, author of many things, for the Blue Metropolis reading series. We pulled the car up across from the venue and noted that Drawn & Quarterly publishers have opened a store on Bernard street, also called Drawn & Quarterly, and it's a pretty little store with exciting new graphic novel smells. When I lived in Mile End ten years ago, there were no such cool cafes and arty spots. The whole trip made me consider moving back.

Zoe T. Leroy writes from hotel room at dawn

Hey guys! I've been in Montreal to promote Bottle Rocket Hearts and am now off to Toronto to prepare for the 30th anniversary of Between the Lines tonight - our party is at the Gladstone at 7:00 p.m. and I hope you can join us. My internet access has been sporadic - in fact, this is the first time the hotel wifi hasn't kicked me off after 34 seconds. I will update tomorrow with details about my week.

Zoe T. Leroy Chats with Jacob McArthur Mooney, poet and founder of the Facebook Review

ZW: Why a literary journal on Facebook? How did you come up with the idea?

1. It was one of those things that I thought up and then assumed had to already exist somewhere, because Facebook is such an immense environment. As it turns out, FB is vast but also surprisingly empty. It's not really seen as something that could contain its own culture, merely reflect the culture happening beyond it. That was the assumption I wanted to challenge.

ZW: Did you anticipate it becoming this popular?

2. Is it popular? It's a big world and we're just a little island. I thought it would grow a little slower than this, but I never doubted that there were people "out there" looking for something a little meatier from their resident timewaster.

ZW: What are you hoping to accomplish?

Zoe T. Leroy Praises the 2007 IFOA line-up

Note: I didn't have a great corresponding photo to go with this entry, so I attached a snap of myself as a child sitting in a wagon with a lamb. You know, just to reach out to my fellow former sheep farmers.

Zoe T. Leroy asks author about Britney, Chris Crocker, David Miller, Unicorns, Babies and her First Novel!

When I was a newly signed novelist editing the final drafts, I met up with an acquaintance at a party, also newly signed. We had the same excited/terrified glow about our saturn-return era faces. We quickly divulged how we'd recently experienced colossal panic attacks related to certain first-novel fears - what it will mean to finally have a novel, and what do you do if you wake up every morning at 4 from a dream about accidental plagiarism, or reviews that confirm your worst fears about yourself? I'm thrilled to report we made it through unscathed. I interviewed the Toronto author over email.

ZW: Your first novel, Be Good, is out this November. Can you tell me what it's about?

Zoe T. LeRoy Interviews Hot Shot ECW Author Brian Joseph Davis about His New Novel "I, Tania"!

Brian Joseph Davis is launching his novel I, Tania tonight! You should be there in about one hour from now. I have to go vote and then collapse, as per my hell day at the small press publishing mines, but I'm doing my part by telling you all right now to go buy the book and follow his every innovative move on his website which shows without a doubt, he's cooler than I'll ever be.

ZW: Ok, Mr. Davis, because you asked me to be harsh - what exactly makes this book so great, huh? Who do you think you are?

BJD: Well, as an object it's great to look at. One of the best designs I've
ever done. As far as its literary greatness, that's highly subjective. I

Launch of Toronto Youth Street Stories Website

This spring I lead a writing workshop for street-involved youth in Toronto supported by the Youth Pathways Project. Emily Pohl-Weary, d’bi young, and Lynn Crosbie also taught workshops and the group is now launching a website of writing and art work that grew out of the project. You can click here to read their work.

In other more self-involved news, I'm very excited about a review of Bottle Rocket Hearts that appeared on today. Ahem, "Those who grew up in the nineties will appreciate the book’s references to Doc Martens, the 1995 referendum, Sonic Youth and the Spice Girls. If Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler immortalized the Montreal of their generation, Whittall immortalizes the Montreal of ours."

From the Mixed Up Files of Zoe T. Leroy

In Todd's final entry he wrote, "Every writer in the provinces wants to be in Toronto. I cannot live in Toronto, of course, because I have no money and I am scared of smog." It is true that I am currently broke and frequently undone by pollution-related chest colds, but nevertheless fairly happy with my Toronto digs. I joined a Facebook group (shut up) called Actually...I Like Toronto, and that pretty much sums up my current relationship to the much-maligned grid-city. An initially reluctant attraction turned comfortable marriage. I must admit to being Winnipeg-curious, with an affection for Nova Scotia. But Toronto is where it's at for the extroverted writers, especially this past weekend, with both Word on the Street and Nuit Blanche.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.